Travel Blog

The Ghan Train – Your Ticket to Outback Australia

By in Australia, Rail Travel No Comments

From the moment you step aboard The Ghan train, you’ll feel it – a sense that you are embarking on a very special journey, on one of Australia’s national treasures.

Australia’s overland trains have a firm place in the heritage and heart of the country. Travelling the full length and breadth of the island continent, you’ll discover the remarkable diversity and rich history of the land. But don’t think you have to rough it. It just so happens that these iconic train journeys also take you overland in spectacular style!

Riding the Ghan is one of the most amazing and adventurous ways you can explore South Australia and the Northern Territory. Relish an ever-changing view as you travel across the great expanses of the Outback. Local commentary will help you learn more about the regions you traverse and it’s all enjoyed in impeccable comfort.

Travelling by train is trouble-free and relaxing, but it’s also more exciting than you might imagine. If you didn’t think you were a train lover before boarding The Ghan, then this luxury trip is bound to convert you.  The fully-inclusive rail service travels up the centre of Australia, from Adelaide to Alice Springs, and further north to Katherine to Darwin. 

History of The Ghan train

The Ghan is celebrating its 91st birthday in 2020, so you can imagine the remarkable history that’s associated with a train that symbolises Australia’s frontier spirit.

The name “Ghan” originates from 19th-century folklore. In fact, in 1929 the train was first dubbed the Afghan Express, in honour of the cameleers who established permanent routes through Australia’s Red Centre. It turned out that the cameleers were from modern-day Pakistan, and not Afghanistan as was initially assumed. Eventually the train became known as The Ghan.

The original Ghan line followed the route of explorer John MacDouall Stuart. It wasn’t until 1911 that the Commonwealth committed to constructing a rail line to connect southern and northern Australia.

On August 4, 1929, finally The Ghan train departed the Adelaide Railway Station for the first time. During the 1940’s The Ghan line was busier than ever, transporting servicemen during World War II. In the decades that followed, the train continued to carry crucial supplies to remote Australia. Eventually, in February 2004, the 1911 dream was realised at last with the laying of new tracks and completion of the Alice Springs to Darwin rail link.

Today, The Ghan offers more than just a way to travel between Adelaide and Darwin. It’s a romantic connection to the land and unforgettable journey.

On board The Ghan

The Ghan is specifically designed to take you back in time to the golden age of rail travel. While there’s the comfy cabins and amazing tucker (we’ll get to those), there’s also the fantastic staff who do so much to make the journey memorable for all the right reasons.

Each of the 49 crew play a part in you feeling connected to The Ghan’s celebrated history, following in the tracks of pioneers as you travel through Australia’s red heart. Travellers regularly comment on their excellent commentary, banter and attentive service.

Your Cabin

Leave everyday life behind and put away your wallet as you board this distinctive and luxurious train. Private Gold Class cabins are the most popular and included in our Ghan packages.

Gold Service twin cabin being prepared for a good night’s sleep.
  • Gold Twin is a comfortable sleeper cabin featuring private en suite and upper and lower berths that convert to a three-seater lounge by day
  • Gold Single offers solo travellers a more affordable option and are a compact sleeper cabin featuring a bed that converts to a seat by day. There is no en suite, but guests can use the shared shower/toilet facilities located at the end of the carriage.

Why not upgrade to Platinum Service for the ultimate level of sophistication for your journey?

  • Platinum Service offers spacious Double or Twin cabins, almost twice the size of a Gold Service Twin cabin
  • By day, cabins are set up lounge-style with a moveable table and two ottomans
  • By night, lounges are converted to double or twin beds
  • En suite equipped with separate shower, vanity with cupboard space, toilet and Australian bathroom amenities
  • Panoramic windows enable views from both sides of the train
  • Access to the exclusive Platinum Club for dining and socialising
  • Freshly prepared continental breakfasts served upon request in-cabin
  • Refreshments served in-cabin

Wine & Dine in Style

The Ghan serves impressive regionally-sourced cuisine that is as fresh as it is tasty.  Plus, complement your food with beer, wines and non-alcoholic beverages – all included!

Meals on board the train are taken in the stylish Queen Adelaide Restaurant Car (or Platinum Car for Platinum Service guests). Your package includes flexible dining times, hearty breakfasts, two course lunches, magnificent three course fine dining dinners and a great choice of wines and beverages.

Taking their cue from the diverse environments that The Ghan travels through, the expert culinary team works closely with local suppliers, farmers and providores to source the best ingredients. You can expect to dine on mouth-watering dishes and seasonal specialities, such as Darwin saltwater barramundi and Barossa Valley chorizo. Special dietary requirements can be accommodated as well.

Each of our three dining carriages has its own ambience and personality. The Queen Adelaide restaurant has an art deco atmosphere, the Outback Explorer Lounges offer camaraderie in a relaxed social setting, while the Platinum Club impresses with its quartzite tabletops, timber flooring and brass fittings for Platinum Service guests.

Exclusive Off Train Excursions

On board you will find sumptuous dining, elegant private cabins and attentive service. But when the train stops, the thrills continue!

Included in your package is an ideal selection of off-train excursions and outback experiences. Enhance your personal journey and join discovery walks, river cruises and cultural experiences. Optional upgrades are available, such as camel rides or helicopter flights, to add another exciting dimension to your trip.

Choose your adventure

The Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin is a four day journey over 2,979 kilometres through the heart of Australia. It can be broken down into an overnight trip from Adelaide to Alice Springs, or two-night itinerary from Alice Springs to Darwin.

Here’s a sample of sensational itineraries that include The Ghan train, and you can browse our website for more rail adventures.

Whichever Ghan holiday you choose, you will get to discover the best of Australia’s Outback. From the Red Centre and breathtaking Uluru, through to the tropical Top End, Darwin and lush Kakadu National Park.  The romance, adventure and comfort of rail are yours to experience, along with incredible dining and exclusive off train adventures!

Have any questions about travelling on The Ghan? Contact our team of experienced travel specialists today.

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